Rejoice again offers free Thanksgiving meal

Monday, November 21, 2022

LE MARS — A Thanksgiving tradition continues in Le Mars with a Thanksgiving Celebration dinner at Rejoice Community Church.

The church offers a full dinner for those who wish to dine-in, have a carryout, or have a dinner delivered.

This year marks the 18th annual Thanksgiving Banquet at the church at 1320 Third Ave. S.E.

There is no charge for the meal, however a free will donation will be accepted.

The meal includes turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, cranberry sauce and an assortment of pies and desserts.

The committee organizing this year’s dinner is Margaret Catton, Kent Vande Weerd and Beth Campbell, with Nick Gengler coordinating the deliveries.

To order a delivery, call Cathy at the church office, 548-4430 Monday and Tuesday, and no later than 2 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 23, as delivery routes are mapped out that day.

“Maggie is our organizer. I have been very busy cooking turkeys, to be honest with you,” Vande Weerd said Thursday.

“A couple weeks ago I did just shy of 10 turkeys. Last Saturday I did 34 turkeys. That’s a lot of birds to manhandle,” he said.

Over the weekend, he planned to cook a dozen turkeys Friday night and finish up on Saturday with 16-18.

Last year the group prepared 72-74 turkeys. However, they did have leftovers.

“I’m expecting our numbers to go up a little bit over what we served last year,” he explained.

“Here at Rejoice we partner with the Siouxland Food Bank with our food pantry and we’ve seen an increase in demand there, so I’m guessing our count for the dinner will go up.”

He’s hopeful the numbers for food items are all in place.

This is Vande Weerd’s second year of cooking turkeys.

He explained that in the past when Adri Ruisch was still with Rejoice, she and her husband, Gene, would spend a day at the church with the two of them, cooking, cooling and cleaning the birds, and putting the meat away.

“When I cooked the turkeys last week, I had two gals and two couples there just to debone the birds. They had 34 turkeys done in an hour and a half,” he said.

Volunteers will be on hand Wednesday to set up for serving and carryout lines, and get all things in proper order.

“I’ll get there early at 6 a.m., Thursday morning, to start heating all the food for serving. We have to make the potatoes, make the dressing, there will be a lot of work done in about five hours,” he said.

As always, the meal is free of charge, although donations are welcome.

“If you need a meal, come on in and we will be more than happy to serve you,” he said. “To see an event like this come together, and free available to anyone is a blessing.”

An undertaking such as this would not be possible without a number of volunteers, not only from the church but the community.

“We have willing volunteers. We have people volunteer to come help us that aren’t even members of our church,” he continued. “I am so grateful for that, just for the fact that the word ‘community’ is in our church name for a reason, it’s Rejoice Community Church.”

“Reaching out to the community, helping in the community and being a part of the community is, like I said, it’s what we do It’s a labor of love, put it that way,” he said in conclusion.

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